New year, new Covid-19 threat?



05 Jan 2023 06:07pm
Photo for illustrative purposes - BERNAMA FILE PIX
Photo for illustrative purposes - BERNAMA FILE PIX

Happy New Year!

This year will be different. Let’s start on a high note, away from the negativity and global pandemic which had slowed us down these past years... Or so I thought.

Just when I begin to think that Malaysia is entering the endemic phase, that we will be able to enjoy life fearlessly as we once did, being able to breathe fresh air without a piece of fabric hindering it and being able to touch our loved ones without fear - the images, again, seem to be unreal.

Recently, China reopened its border and eased travel restrictions into the country.

This also means that Chinese tourists will begin to flock to other countries too, which will spark fear among the people.

The decision to reopen its border came even when the land of the dragon is still battling Covid-19 threats, with the current surge believed to be driven by BF.7 subvariant of Omicron.

The two main Covid-19 variants spreading in China – the BA.5.2 variant and the BF.7 variant – have been detected in Malaysia.

With the news of Covid-19 being highly infectious in China and the reopening of its border, many parties in Malaysia have urged the government to restrict the entrance of tourists into the country.

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The Malaysian government has since assured it would not compromise public health and safety amidst fears of a new surge in the neighbouring country.

Despite not restricting entry into the country, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that the government is taking extra measures to monitor all incoming travellers from all countries with high infection rates, not just travellers from China.

He said that there had been no spike in cases as claimed based on data collected on the number of Chinese travellers to Malaysia – a total of 336,000 in one year (2022), including 56,000 in December.

Although fear of the new subvariants is high in the country, health experts believe that the government took the right measure not to restrict entry into the country.

Public Health and Epidemiology Specialist Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said implementing stricter standard operating procedures (SOPs) was sufficient to curb the infection of Covid-19.

Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the emergence of any new Covid-19 variants could happen in any country throughout the world and not only in China and that it would not cause a significant increase in the number of cases.

However, I personally still believe that mandatory testing and quarantines should be conducted to ensure that the spread of the virus can be curbed.

Hence, what should we, as the public do?

With the monovalent vaccines made available to the public, Malaysians could get booster shots without waiting for the bivalent vaccines.

Aside from that, the public should take precautions just like we did the last couple of years to ensure that we are in the best of health and to avoid being infected or reinfected by Covid-19.

So yeah, reality check, it’s a brand new year, but it looks like it is going to be the same old ride.

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